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MaxxMusic presentsJD SIMO + GA-20
Blues / Roots / Rock
JD Simo... The Chicago-born Nashvillian is like a one-mancrusade dedicated to keeping music real, raw, and honest. No matter the settingand no matter his role (whether it’s wingman or bandleader) J.D.’s presenceinfuses the situation of the moment with the music that’s been fueling himpretty much his whole life, spiced with influences that straddle both decadesand dimensions.
As a songwriter, guitarist, and producer he has worked with thelikes of Jack White, Tommy Emmanuel, Luther Dickinson, Dave Cobb, BlackberrySmoke, and even been a member of Grateful Dead founder Phil Lesh' "Phil& Friends".
During lockdown in '20, he started cutting tracks in hismakeshift studio on a weekly basis. Joined by longtime collaborator AdamAbrashoff on drums and the addition of longtime friend,bassist-producer-engineer Adam Bednarik (Justin Townes Earle), they mused aproverbial soup of shared influences.
Hill country trance blues of Junior Kimbrough, RL Burnside andAsie Payton. Hypnotic Afro Beat of Fela Kuti and Tony Allen. Psychedelic warpsof Captain Beefheart, Funkadelic, and Jimi Hendrix. The old school blues ofJohn Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker and Lightnin Hopkins. As well as the raw fuzzyrock of The Stooges and Nirvana.
Mind Control is the product of 3 like-minded buddies huddled ina humble setting, making music to make them feel good. The songs starkrevealing nature, is the product of them using the creative process for therapyand enjoyment in a messed up time. A positive theme of growth, self help andstruggles with addiction and mental health lay along side a haunting, low downmusical landscape. It's raw, funky and real. Such is life.
Bluesmusic is revered for its timelessness. The best blues – no matter how old –sounds as fresh and visceral today as it did when first recorded. Thehigh-energy electric blues trio GA-20 – guitarist Matt Stubbs,guitarist/vocalist Pat Faherty, and drummer Tim Carman – know this well. Sincefirst forming in 2018, GA-20 has drawn inspiration for their primal, originalmusic from late 1950s/early 1960s blues, R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. They userare and vintage gear (including at times the famed Gibson GA-20 amplifier forwhich the band is named), creating powerfully raw, driving music that is atonce traditional and refreshingly modern. The band’s dynamic self-penned songssound and feel as fresh and real as the old blues they love and perform, includingsongs by Otis Rush, J.B. Lenoir, Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Wells and especiallytheir favorite, Hound Dog Taylor. According to Stubbs, “Not enough people knowjust how cool Hound Dog Taylor was.”
Legendarysix-fingered Chicago bluesman Theodore Roosevelt “Hound Dog” Taylor always knewhow he wanted to be remembered, declaring, “When I die they’ll say, ‘hecouldn’t play shit, but he sure made it sound good!’” His first full lengthrecording in 1971 was also the first album on now world-famous Alligator Records,Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers. In fact, label president BruceIglauer founded Alligator for the sole purpose of recording and releasing thatalbum. Fifty years later, Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers isconsidered a classic of the genre, and Alligator boasts a catalog of over 350blues and roots rock releases. With Taylor on wild slide guitar, BrewerPhillips picking out the bass notes on his beat-up Telecaster guitar, and TedHarvey driving the beat at breakneck speed, the band – playing theirsecond-hand instruments through third-hand amps – made a loud, fast and joyfulnoise. Famed critic Robert Christgau referred to them as “the Ramones of theblues.” At the time, Iglauer figured, “If I love this band and this music somuch, everyone else will love them too.”
Now,Colemine Records – working in partnership with Alligator Records – will releaseGA-20’s new full-length album, Try It…You Might Like It! GA-20 DoesHound Dog Taylor, featuring 10 songs written or performed by theChicago blues legend. From the fiery first single and album opener She’sGone to the blistering Sadie to the all-time Hound Dog classic GiveMe Back My Wig, GA-20 deliver one electrifying track after another.According to Stubbs, “We feel a strong connection to the unique setup of twoguitars and drums with no bass, and we all have a massive appreciation of HoundDog’s raw and no-frills sound. It’s essentially what we try to do as a band.”
With 2021marking the 50th anniversary of both Alligator Records and Hound Dog Taylor& The HouseRockers, the timing for GA-20 to record these songs seemedperfect. With the pandemic shutdown and tour dates postponed, the band wasready for something new. As fate would have it, Iglauer, not knowing the bandwas under exclusive contract, approached Stubbs about a potential project withAlligator. Since GA-20 was already committed to Colemine, the idea to worktogether with Alligator on this album was born. Alligator continues its 50thanniversary celebration by working with GA-20 and Colemine Records to present anew album of Hound Dog Taylor’s music, while the band gives their fans some ofthe most raw and honest performances imaginable with Try It…You MightLike It!
Accordingto Colemine Records owner Terry Cole, Try It…You Might Like It! isa natural fit for both labels. “Teaming up with Alligator for this releasefeels like a perfect pairing! Alligator was created to give Hound Dog Taylor ahome, and over the last 50 years, the label has established itself as aperennial winner in the blues world. With GA-20, we're really excited aboutapplying some of the old-school production techniques found on most of our soulrecords to the blues genre. Using just a few mics and recording live, alltogether in one room, is really what makes so many classic blues, soul, andR&B records so special!"
Alligator’s Iglauer is thrilled to be working with the band. “GA-20 absolutelyglory in the rough-edged, unvarnished Chicago blues of Hound Dog Taylor &The HouseRockers. GA-20 are among the very few artists who have captured theband’s raw essence. Hound Dog would be proud that they are delivering his musicso well. They rock the house!”
Heading into the recording session for Try It…You Might Like It!,the plan was to keep everything as true to the way Hound Dog recorded aspossible. Stubbs spoke to Iglauer on several occasions to get info on thoseearly sessions and for the details of the guitars and amps that Hound Dog andBrewer used. Stubbs explains, “Pat and I searched out four 1960’sTeisco/Kingston guitars to find the one with the closest tone to Hound Dog’soriginal, and Pat used a vintage 1960’s Silvertone amp – the same as Hound Dog.I used a vintage Telecaster and a vintage Fender amp like Brewer Phillipsplayed.” They tracked the songs in under two days, live, all in one room, andin no more than three takes per song, just as Hound Dog Taylor & TheHouseRockers did. Stubbs continues, “Our essential goal was to capture thespirit and vibe of Hound Dog Taylor & The HouseRockers and (HoundDog’s second album) Natural Boogie, and I believe we did justthat.”
Accordingto Stubbs, “Some music is more than just music, it comes with a feeling. To me,Hound Dog was raw and visceral, and all of these things that really appeal tome and that I try to bring to my own approach on guitar. It was an excitingchallenge to try to embody that on this record, in playing and production.”Guitarist Faherty agrees, saying, “Hound Dog is everything I want to be inblues. No one else today even comes close.” And Carman still can’t get enoughof that drum sound. “In my opinion, Ted Harvey is one of the most underratedand underappreciated drummers of all time. I learned a lot from studyingHarvey’s playing, especially the way he interacted with Brewer and Hound Dogwhile still maintaining a driving groove. His ride cymbal playing was one of akind.”
MattStubbs is a 12-year veteran (and still a member) of blues master CharlieMusselwhite’s touring band. He’s performed with James Cotton and John Hammond,among many others. Faherty played rock and metal guitar until he was bitten bythe blues bug. The two met in Boston, and their mutual love of traditionalelectric blues, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll led them to write, perform andeventually record their modern vision of this life-altering music. Upon formingin 2018, GA-20 quickly began to draw a following, and the band soon signed withacclaimed soul/R&B label Colemine Records, releasing their debut, LonelySoul, in 2019 to widespread critical and popular acclaim. The albumpremiered in the #2 position on the Billboard Blues Chart. Their EP LiveVol. 1 seemingly came out of nowhere to debut at #1 a year later. Medium.comdeclared, “This is the kind of music that travels through time while takingfrom the era where it was born and turning it into something fresh. Dirty andraw…timeless and modern.”
GA-20 hitthe road hard, performing live at every opportunity, earning new fans at everyclub, concert hall and festival they played from coast to coast. Now withTry It…You Might Like It! GA-20 Does Hound Dog Taylor, GA-20unleashes this timeless, down and dirty music, making it breathe and live asforcefully today as it did back when Hound Dog Taylor was spitting fire.Alligator’s Iglauer says, “No one made a more wonderfully glorious racket thanHound Dog, Brewer Phillips and Ted Harvey.” GA-20 certainly comes close, as theracket made by Matt Stubbs, Pat Faherty and Tim Carman is also pretty damnglorious. “Ultimately,” says Stubbs, “we think Hound Dog fans and blues fanswill love this record, and we’re proud to bring his sound to a new audience.” - Bio byMarc Lipkin